The GI Pedagogy ERASMUS project started just before the COVID19 pandemic.
We have managed to continue working remotely with Zoom meetings.
Outputs from the project so far have included a review of teaching with and about GIS. This can be downloaded from our website, which is taking shape and will eventually involve a teacher-training course.
GI-Pedagogy (2019-2022) is a school education project funded under the KA2 cooperation for innovation action of the Erasmus Plus programme (European Commission, 2019), that seeks to consolidate in a coherent concept, structure, and set of outputs, the following three major elements, considered key for integrating the use of GIS and spatial learning at a pan-European scale:
1) Theme: The project focuses directly on innovative pedagogy specifically applied to national curricula. It responds to the need to train teachers how to integrate innovative GI Science pedagogy into their lessons. It seeks to do this by developing essential teacher training resources. The project intends to transform existing available knowledge, materials, concepts, and ideas into real training of young teachers, with the further possibility for the professional development of existing teachers. To do this, GIPedagogy builds on previous innovative work and also incorporates the latest web-based tools and technologies.
2) Tools, Data, and Resources: GI-Pedagogy proposes to take advantage of the exciting and innovative world of open data and open science, thus offering easy access to sources for schools and connecting the school world with the real world (using official data and scientific results) and raising the pupils' awareness of citizenship and data issues. The project will take advantage of the growing number of easy to use web-based technologies becoming available online. GI-Pedagogy will use the innovative technologies made available through the European Commission Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition initiative (https://www.esri.com/en-us/school-program-europe/overview) and the pledge made by the leading GIS software company ESRI to support schools across Europe (Esri, 2016).
3) Geographic Focus and Previous Initiatives: Some material has already been produced to help teach GIS in schools; however, it has not been directed at initial teacher training, nor has it focused on new teachers, with European relevance. Additionally, the GI-Pedagogy project will build resources with a European focus and related to the Digital Skills and Jobs pledge. It builds on what has already been achieved by various European projects: - the Herodot Thematic Network for Geography (2000-2009) brought GI and spatial thinking to the attention of many (Attard, 2010; Donert and. Charzyński, 2005). As a result of this project many other initiatives were taken, one of them leading to the iGuess project, coordinated in Flanders. - The iGuess project (2007-2010) trained teachers in the use of GIS (Zwartjes, 2009), and in developing their own didactical materials using GIS. Although very successful (there are ongoing dissemination activities) the partners involved noticed that for many teachers the lack of curriculum guidance, including materials on GIScience, makes it difficult to fully integrate GIS in education. - The digital-earth.eu network (2009-2013) focused on the development of a community of geomedia learners (Donert, 2013; Lindner-Fally and Zwartjes, 2012; De Miguel and Donert, 2014), but this only reached a specific group of teachers, educators, and those responsible for education. - the GI-Learner project (2015-2018) created a spatial thinking competence model (Donert et al., 2016) and a learning line with ready-to-use lessons (Zwartjes and Lazaro y Torres, 2019) for secondary schools. - the MYGEO project (2018-2021) aims at fostering the employability of students in higher education through promoting the acquisition of key skills related to the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools.
4) Educational Methods: If we want to bridge the chasm between the early adopters of GIS and the whole educational community, the only effective strategy is to explore and encourage innovative approaches GI Pedagogy Project https://www.gilearner.ugent.be/gi-pedagogy/ and furthermore to embed them in the process of initial teacher training. Promoting stronger coherence in the curricula using GIS is one of the stepping stones that will allow more pupils to obtain jobs in the growing geospatial industry, which has been expanding at more than 12% per annum over the past decade and forecasts even stronger growth in the years to come (GeoBuiz, 2018) such that education and training cannot keep pace with demand, leading to skills shortages and unfilled jobs.
The development of the GI-Pedagogy project was derived from:
a) the results of the School on the Cloud - Connecting Education to the Cloud for Digital Citizenship network project, which explored how education should respond to Cloud Computing developments and how Cloud-based services can be used to improve the quality of education and transform learning and teaching in schools (Koutsopoulos and Papoutsis, 2016); and
b) the GI-Learner project, which established a competence model and framework (Zwartjes, 2018). These projects also demonstrated that leadership for change is needed as described by Camburn et al. (2013), as the main issue today is no longer getting access to technology, but the capability to establish meaningful web-based learning and teaching approaches. The GI-Pedagogy project aims to explore learning and teaching by developing training and resources for geography teachers. The highest-priority target group for the resources are those still in initial teacher training, Newly Qualified Teachers, and those in their first full year of teaching, who according to Christensen and Knezek (2017) are in the process of transitioning between educational environments - a critical stage for technology integration.